Pheasant braised with cider and star anise

 In Autumn, Game, Ingredients, Meat, Poultry and Game, Seasons, Wild Food, Winter

Pheasant braised with cider and star aniseCooking with pheasant is one of the joys of winter, a bird that is beautiful in feather, and which adds such an amazing aroma to the kitchen when cooking. I prefer to pot braise pheasant as I find it keeps a good degree of moisture in the flesh and is relatively forgiving on a bird which can dry out hideously if not treated with a little respect. Cider and perry are generally my go to liquids when braising pheasant as the acidity and fruit are perfect for the gaminess of the meat.

Through working closely with Sumayya Usmani on many recipes I’ve learned that in Pakistan dark spices such as star anise and black cardamom are often used with game birds, and here I’ve used the former as it is a perfect foil for the apples in the cider. The addition of black pepper gives a little added piquancy to the sauce. Serve this with roast potatoes for a perfect winter supper or even have as an alternative to turkey on Christmas Day served alongside skirlie.

Pheasant braised with cider and star anise

Serves 2

1 pheasant
Olive oil and butter for frying
Sprig rosemary
1 whole star anise
10 black peppercorns
1 medium onion roughly chopped
330ml medium cider
Salt to season


  1. In a heavy based pot with a lid that will comfortable accommodate the pheasant heat a good drizzle of oil and a knob of butter along with the spice over a medium heat. Add the onion and soften for a minute.
  2. Push the onions to the side and brown the pheasant on all sides for 3-4 minutes then add the rosemary. Pour over the cider and add 1/2 tsp salt.
  3. Braise over a low heat for 35-45 minutes depending on the size of the bird, check for the juices running clear from the thigh after 35 minutes as you don’t want to overcook.
  4. When done remove the pheasant from the pot and rest breast side down. Remove the rosemary and star anise. Increase the heat and reduce the liquor to a gravy-like consistency, pour the resting juices from the pheasant back into the pot.
  5. Carve the pheasant and serve with the boozy buttery sauce.
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